Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS7111750 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/796,262
Publication dateSep 26, 2006
Filing dateMar 9, 2004
Priority dateOct 15, 1998
Fee statusPaid
Also published asCA2557165A1, CA2557165C, CN1922434A, CN100436926C, EP1735559A2, EP1735559A4, EP1735559B1, US20040188446, WO2005094243A2, WO2005094243A3
Publication number10796262, 796262, US 7111750 B2, US 7111750B2, US-B2-7111750, US7111750 B2, US7111750B2
InventorsKailash C. Gulati, Raymond Moon
Original AssigneeExxonmobil Upstream Research Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Liquefied natural gas storage tank
US 7111750 B2
Abstract
Substantially rectangular-shaped tanks are provided for storing liquefied gas, which tanks are especially adapted for use on land or in combination with bottom-supported offshore structure such as gravity-based structures (GBS). A tank according to this invention is capable of storing fluids at substantially atmospheric pressure and has a plate cover adapted to contain fluids and to transfer local loads caused by contact of said plate cover with said contained fluids to an internal frame structure comprised of a plate girder ring frame structure and/or an internal truss frame structure. Optionally, a grillage of stiffeners and stringers may be disposed on the plate cover and additional sifters disposed on the plate girder ring frame structure and/or an internal truss frame structure. Methods of constructing these tanks are also provided.
Images(16)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(18)
1. A substantially rectangular fluid storage tank, said fluid storage tank having a length, width, height, first and second ends, first and second sides, top and bottom, said fluid storage tank comprising:
(a) an internal frame structure, said frame structure comprising:
(1) a plurality of first plate girder ring frames having inner sides disposed to the interior of said fluid storage tank and outer sides, said first plate girder ring frames running along the width and height of said fluid storage tank and spaced along the length of said fluid storage tank,
(2) a first plurality of truss structures running along the width and height of said fluid storage tank and spaced along the length of said fluid storage tank, each one of the said first truss structures (i) corresponding to one of the said first plate girder ring frames and (ii) disposed in the plane of and inside one of the said first plate girder ring frames, said first plurality of truss structures thereby supporting the inner sides of said first plate girder ring frames,
(3) a plurality of second plate girder ring frames having inner sides disposed to the interior of said fluid storage tank and outer sides, said second plate girder ring frames running along the height and length of said fluid storage tank and spaced along the width of said fluid storage tank,
wherein the intersection of said plate girder ring frames forms a plurality of attachment points, thereby forming one integrated internal frame structure; and
(b) a plate cover surrounding said internal frame structure, said plate cover having an inner side and an exterior side, said inner side of said plate cover disposed to the outer sides of said first and second ring frames.
2. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 1, wherein said internal frame structure (a) further includes:
(4) a second plurality of truss structures running along the height and length of said fluid storage tank and spaced along the width of said fluid storage tank, each one of the said second truss structures (i) corresponding to one of the said second plate girder ring frames and (ii) disposed in the plane of and inside one of the said second plate girder ring frames, said second plurality of truss structures thereby supporting the inner sides of said second plate girder ring frames.
3. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 2, wherein said first plurality of truss structures and said second plurality of truss structures intersect and are connected together by sharing common structural members at said intersection.
4. A fluid storage tank as in claim 3, wherein said internal frame structure (a) further includes:
(5) a plurality of third plate girder ring frames having inner sides disposed to the interior of said fluid storage tank and outer sides, said third plate girder ring frames running along the length and width of said fluid storage tank and spaced along the height of said fluid storage tank, wherein the intersection of said third plate girder ring frames with said first and second plate girder ring frames forms a plurality of attachment points, thereby forming one integrated internal frame structure.
5. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 4, wherein at least one of said first, second or third plate girder ring frames further includes flanges located on said inner sides of said plate girder ring frames.
6. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 5, wherein said flanges form a “T” shape on said inner side of said plate girder ring frames with a depth of said plate girder ring frames, said depth defined as the distance between said inner side and said outer side of said plate girder ring frame in a plane containing both said inner side and said outer side of said plate girder ring frame.
7. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 6, wherein at least one of said first, second or third plate girder ring frames are solid.
8. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 6, wherein at least one of said first, second or third plate girder ring frames contain perforations.
9. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 8, further including:
(c) a plurality of stiffeners and stringers interconnected and arranged in a substantially orthogonal pattern, said plurality of stiffeners and stringers having an inner and outer side, said outer side of said stiffeners and stringers attached to said inner side of said plate cover, said plate cover and the said inner sides of said stiffeners and stringers attached to the outer side of said plate girder ring frames.
10. The fluid storage tank of claim 9, wherein said plate cover is between 6 to 13 millimeters thick.
11. The fluid storage tank of claim 10, wherein said plate cover is comprised of a plurality of joined steel plates.
12. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 10, wherein at least one of said first, second or third plate girder ring frames has a depth of 1.5 to 3.5 meters, said depth defined as the distance between said inner side and said outer side of said plate girder ring frame in a plane containing both said inner side and said outer side of said plate girder ring frame.
13. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 12, wherein at least one of said first, second or third plate girder ring frames has a depth that is 1 to 10 percent of said fluid storage tank's height.
14. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 10, wherein said fluid storage tank has an internal fluid storage capacity of greater than 100,000 cubic meters.
15. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 10, wherein an item selected from said plate girder ring frames, said truss structures and said plate cover is made of a cryogenic material.
16. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 15, wherein said cryogenic material is selected from stainless steels, high nickel steel alloys, aluminum, and aluminum alloys.
17. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 10, wherein at least one of said first or second truss structures is comprised of (i) a plurality of both vertical, elongated supports and horizontal, elongated supports, connected to form a gridwork of structural members with a closed outer periphery, and (ii) a plurality of additional support members secured within and between said connected vertical and horizontal, elongated supports to thereby form each said truss structure.
18. A fluid storage tank as claimed in claim 17, wherein said intersection and connection of said first plurality of truss structures and said second plurality of truss structures includes at least a portion of said vertical elongated supports serving as a vertical elongated support in both said first plurality of truss structures and said second plurality of truss structures.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/876,684, filed 7 Jun. 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,729,492 which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/256,383, filed 24 Feb. 1999, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,732,881 which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/104,325, filed 15 Oct. 1998.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to liquefied gas storage tanks and in one aspect relates to tanks especially adapted for storing liquefied gases at cryogenic temperatures at near atmospheric pressures (e.g., liquefied natural gas (“LNG ”)).

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Various terms are defined in the following specification. For convenience, a Glossary of terms is provided herein, immediately preceding the claims.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is typically stored at cryogenic temperatures of about −162° C. (−260° F.) and at substantially atmospheric pressure. As used herein, the term “cryogenic temperature” includes any temperature of about −40° C. (−40° F.) and lower. Typically, LNG is stored in double walled tanks or containers. The inner tank provides the primary containment for LNG while the outer tank holds insulation in place and protects the inner tank and the insulation from adverse effects of the environment. Sometimes, the outer tank is also designed to provide a secondary containment of LNG in case the inner tank fails. Typical sizes of tanks at LNG import or export terminals range from about 80,000 to about 160,000 meters3 (0.5 to 1.0 million barrels) although tanks as large as 200,000 meters3 (1.2 million barrels) have been built or are under construction.

For large volume storage of LNG, two distinct types of tank construction are widely used. The first of these is a flat-bottomed, cylindrical, self-standing tank that typically uses a 9% nickel steel for the inner tank and carbon steel, 9% nickel steel, or reinforced/prestressed concrete for the outer tank. The second type is a membrane tank wherein a thin (e.g. 1.2 mm thick) metallic membrane is installed within a cylindrical concrete structure which, in turn, is built either below or above grade on land. A layer of insulation is typically interposed between the metallic membrane, e.g., of stainless steel or of a product with the tradename Invar, and the load bearing concrete cylindrical walls and flat floor.

While structurally efficient, circular cylindrical tanks in their state-of-practice designs are difficult and time consuming to build. Self-standing 9% nickel steel tanks, in their popular design where the outer secondary container is capable of holding both the liquid and the gas vapor, albeit at near atmospheric pressure, take as long as thirty six months to build. Typically, membrane tanks take just as long or longer to build. On many projects, this causes undesirable escalation of construction costs and length of construction schedule.

Recently, radical changes have been proposed in the construction of LNG terminals, especially import terminals. One such proposal involves the building of the terminal a short distance offshore where LNG will be off-loaded from a transport vessel, and stored for retrieval and regasification for sale or use as needed. One such-proposed terminal has LNG storage tanks and regasification equipment installed on what is popularly known as a Gravity Base Structure (GBS), a substantially rectangular-shaped, barge-like structure similar to certain concrete structures now installed on the seafloor and being used as platforms for producing petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico.

Unfortunately, neither cylindrical tanks nor membrane tanks are considered as being particularly attractive for use in storing LNG on GBS terminals. Cylindrical tanks typically do not store enough LNG to economically justify the amount of room such tanks occupy on a GBS and are difficult and expensive to construct on a GBS. Further the size of such tanks must typically be limited (e.g. to no larger than about 50,000 meters3 (approximately 300,000 barrels)) so that the GBS structures can be fabricated economically with readily available fabrication facilities. This necessitates a multiplicity of storage units to satisfy particular storage requirements, which is typically not desirable from cost and other operational considerations.

A membrane-type tank system can be built inside a GBS to provide a relatively large storage volume. However, a membrane-type tank requires a sequential construction schedule wherein the outer concrete structure has to be completely built before the insulation and the membrane can be installed within a cavity within the outer structure. This normally requires a long construction period, which tends to add substantially to project costs.

Accordingly, a tank system is needed for both onshore conventional terminals and for offshore storage of LNG, which tank system alleviates the above-discussed disadvantages of self-standing cylindrical tanks and membrane-type tanks.

In published designs of rectangular tanks (see, e.g., Farrell et. al., U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,982,441 and 3,062,402, and Abe, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,375,547), the plates constituting the tank walls that contain the fluids are also the major source of strength and stability of the tank against all applied loads including static and, when used on land in a conventional LNG import or export terminal or a GBS terminal, earthquake induced dynamic loads. For such tanks, large plate thickness may be required even when the contained liquid volume is relatively small, e.g., 5,000 meters3 (30,000 barrels). For example, Farrell et al. U.S. Pat. No. 2,982,441 provides an example of a much smaller tank, i.e., 45,000 ft3 (1275 meters3), which has a wall thickness of about ½ inch (see column 5, lines 41–45). Tie rods may be provided to connect opposite walls of the tank for the purpose of reducing wall deflections and/or tie rods may be used to reinforce the corners at adjacent walls. Alternatively, bulkheads and diaphragms may be provided in the tank interior to provide additional strength. When tie rods and/or bulkheads are used, such tanks up to moderate sizes, e.g., 10,000 to 20,000 meters3 (60,000 to 120,000 barrels), may be useful in certain applications. For traditional use of rectangular tanks, the size limitation of these tanks is not a particularly severe restriction. For example, both Farrell, et al., and Abe, et al., tanks were invented for use in transport of liquefied gases by sea going vessels. Ships and other floating vessels used in transporting liquefied gases typically are limited to holding tanks of sizes up to about 20,000 meters3.

Large tanks in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 meters3 (approximately 600,000 to 1.2 million barrels), built in accordance with the teachings of Farrell et al. and Abe, et al. would require massive interior bulkheads and diaphragms and would be very costly to build. Typically, any tank of the type taught by Farrell et al., and Abe, et al., i.e., in which the tank strength and stability is provided by the liquid containing tank exterior walls or a combination of the tank interior diaphragms and liquid containing tank exterior walls, is going to be quite expensive, and most often too expensive to be deemed economically attractive. There are many sources of gas and other fluids in the world that might be economically developed and delivered to consumers if an economical storage tank were made available.

Bulkheads and diaphragms in the interior of a tank built in accordance with the teachings of Farrell, et al. and Abe, et al., would also subdivide the tank interior into multiple small cells. When used on ships or similar floating bodies, small liquid storage cells are of advantage because they do not permit development of large magnitudes of dynamic forces due to ocean wave induced dynamic motion of the ship. Dynamic motions and forces due to earthquakes in tanks built on land or on sea bottom are, however, different in nature and large tank structures that are not subdivided into a multitude of cells typically fare better when subjected to such motions and forces.

Accordingly, there is a need for a storage tank for LNG and other fluids that satisfies the primary functions of storing fluids and of providing strength and stability against loads caused by the fluids and by the environment, including earthquakes, while built of relatively thin metal plates and in a relatively short construction schedule. Such a tank will preferably be capable of storing 100,000 meters3 (approximately 600,000 barrels) and larger volumes of fluids and will be much more fabrication friendly than current tank designs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides substantially rectangular-shaped tanks for storing fluids, such as liquefied gas, which tanks are especially adapted for use on land or in combination with bottom-supported offshore structures such as gravity based structures (GBS). Also methods of constructing such tanks are provided. A fluid storage tank according to one embodiment of this invention comprises (I) an internal, substantially rectangular-shaped truss frame structure, said internal truss frame structure comprising: (i) a first plurality of truss structures positioned transversely and longitudinally-spaced from each other in a first plurality of parallel vertical planes along the length direction of said internal truss frame structure; and (ii) a second plurality of truss structures positioned longitudinally and transversely-spaced from each other in a second plurality of parallel vertical planes along the width direction of said internal truss frame structure; said first plurality of truss structures and said second plurality of truss structures interconnected at their points of intersection and each of said first and second plurality of truss structures comprising: (a) a plurality of both vertical, elongated supports and horizontal, elongated supports, connected at their respective ends to form a gridwork of structural members, and (b) a plurality of additional support members secured within and between said connected vertical and horizontal, elongated supports to thereby form each said truss structure; (II) a grillage of stiffeners and stringers arranged in a substantially orthogonal pattern, interconnected and attached to the external extremities of the internal truss frame structure such that when attached to vertical sides of the truss periphery, the stiffeners and stringers are in substantially the vertical and horizontal directions respectively, or in substantially the horizontal and vertical directions respectively, and (III) a plate cover attached to the periphery of said grillage of stiffeners and stringers; all such that said tank is capable of storing fluids at substantially atmospheric pressure and said plate cover is adapted to contain said fluids and to transfer local loads induced on said plate cover by contact with said contained fluids to said grillage of stiffeners and stringers, which in turn is adapted to transfer said local loads to the internal truss frame structure. As used herein, a plate or plate cover is meant to include (i) one substantially smooth and substantially flat body of substantially uniform thickness or (ii) two or more substantially smooth and substantially flat bodies joined together by any suitable joining method, such as by welding, each said substantially smooth and substantially flat body being of substantially uniform thickness. The plate cover, the grillage of stiffeners and stringers, and the internal truss frame structure can be constructed from any suitable material that is suitably ductile and has acceptable fracture characteristics at cryogenic temperatures (e.g., a metallic plate such a 9% nickel steel, aluminum, aluminum alloys, etc.), as may be determined by one skilled in the art.

An alternate embodiment of the invention includes a substantially rectangular fluid storage tank having a length, width, height, first and second ends, first and second sides, top and bottom. The fluid storage tank includes an internal frame structure and a plate cover surrounding said internal frame structure. The internal frame structure includes a plurality of first plate girder ring frames having inner sides disposed to the interior of the fluid storage tank and outer sides. The first plate girder ring frames are positioned running along the width and height of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the length of the fluid storage tank. The internal frame structure further includes a first plurality of truss structures with each one of the first truss structures (i) corresponding to one of the first plate girder ring frames and (ii) disposed in the plane of and inside one of the first plate girder ring frames thereby supporting the inner sides of the first plate girder ring frame. The internal frame structure may further include a plurality of second plate girder ring frames having inner sides disposed to the interior of the fluid storage tank and outer sides. The second ring frames may be positioned running along the height and length of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the width of the fluid storage tank. The internal frame structure may be composed such that the intersection of the plate girder ring frames forms a plurality of attachment points, thereby forming one integrated internal frame structure. The fluid storage tank also includes a plate cover surrounding the internal frame structure. The plate cover has an inner side and an exterior side, where the inner side of the plate cover is disposed to the outer sides of the first and second ring frames.

An alternate embodiment of the invention includes a method of constructing a fluid storage tank. The method includes (A) providing a plurality of plates, a plurality of stiffeners and stringers, and a plurality of plate girder ring frame portions; (B) forming a plate cover from one or more of said plurality of plates; (C) joining a portion of the plurality of stiffeners and stringers to a first side of the plate cover; and (D) joining a portion of the plurality of plate-girder ring frame portions to the first side of a first plate cover, thereby forming a panel element.

An alternate embodiment of the invention includes a method of constructing a fluid storage tank. The method includes (A) providing a plurality of panel elements, a plurality of tank modules, or a combination thereof. The plurality of panel elements and the plurality of tank modules include plate covers having a plurality of stiffeners, stringers and plate girder ring frame portions attached to the first side of the plate cover. The method further includes (B) assembling the plurality of panel elements, the plurality of tank modules, or combinations thereof to form a fluid storage tank, thereby forming a plurality of plate girder ring frames inside the storage tank from the plurality of plate girder ring frame portions.

A tank according to this invention may be a substantially rectangular-shaped structure that can be erected on land and/or fitted into a space within a steel or concrete GBS and that is capable of storing large volumes (e.g. 100,000 meters3 and larger) of LNG at cryogenic temperatures and near atmospheric pressures. Because of the open nature of trusswork and/or plate girder ring frames in the tank interior, such a tank containing LNG is expected to perform in a superior manner in areas where seismic activity (e.g. earthquakes) is encountered and where such activity may induce liquid sloshing and associated dynamic loads within the tank.

Advantages of the structural arrangement of the present invention are clear. The plate cover is designed for fluid containment and for bearing local pressure loads, e.g., caused by the fluid. The plate cover transmits the local pressure loads to the structural grillage of stringers and stiffeners in some embodiments of the invention, which in turns transfers the loads to the internal truss frame structure and/or the plate girder ring frames in some embodiments of the invention. The internal truss frame structure and/or the plate girder ring frame structure in some embodiments of the invention ultimately bears all the loads and disposes them off to the tank foundation; and the internal truss frame structure and/or the plate girder ring frame structure, in some embodiments of the invention, can be designed to be sufficiently strong to meet any such load-bearing requirements. Preferably, the plate cover is designed only for fluid containment and for bearing local pressure loads. Separation of the two functions of a tank structure, i.e., the function of liquid containment fulfilled by the plate cover, and the overall tank stability and strength provided by the internal truss structure and the plate girder ring frame structure and the structural grillage of stringers and stiffeners in some embodiments of the invention permits use of thin metallic plates, e.g., up to 13 mm (0.52 in) for the plate cover. Although thicker plates may also be used, the ability to use thin plates is an advantage of this invention. This invention is especially advantageous when a large, e.g., about 160,000 meter3 (1.0 million barrel) substantially rectangular-shaped tank is built in accordance with this invention using one or more metallic plates that are about 6 to 13 mm (0.24 to 0.52 in) thick to construct the plate cover. In some applications, the plate cover is preferably about 10 mm (0.38 inches) thick.

Many different arrangements of beams, columns and braces can be devised to achieve the desired strength and stiffness of a truss frame structure as illustrated by the use of trusses on bridges and other civil structures. For a tank of the present invention, the truss frame structure construction in the longitudinal (length) and transverse (width) directions when present may be different. The trusses in the two different directions in one embodiment of the invention are designed to provide, at a minimum, the strength and stiffness required for the expected overall dynamic behavior when subjected to a specified seismic activity and other specified load bearing requirements. For example, there is generally a need to support the tank roof structure against internal vapor pressure loads and to support the entire tank structure against loads due to the unavoidable unevenness of the tank floor.

By using an internal truss frame structure and/or the plate girder ring frame structure in one embodiment of the invention to provide the primary support for the tank, the interior of the tank may be effectively contiguous throughout without any encumbrances provided by any bulkheads or the like. This permits the relatively long interior of the tank of this invention to avoid resonance conditions during sloshing under the substantially different dynamic loading caused by seismic activity as opposed to the loading that occurs due to the motion of a sea-going vessel.

In contrast to published designs of rectangular liquid storage tanks, which teach away from reinforcement and stiffening of tank walls in the vertical direction, the structural arrangement of the present invention permits use of structural elements such as stiffeners and stringers in both the horizontal and vertical directions to achieve good structural performance in some embodiments of the invention. Similarly, while published designs require installation of bulkheads and diaphragms to achieve required tank strength with such bulkheads and diaphragms causing large liquid sloshing waves during an earthquake and thus inducing large forces on the diaphragm structure and the tank walls, the open frame of the trusses in tanks according to this invention minimize dynamic loads due to liquid sloshing in earthquake prone sites.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The advantages of the present invention will be better understood by referring to the following detailed description and the attached drawings in which:

FIG. 1A is a sketch of a tank according to one embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 1B is a cut-away sectional view of a mid section one embodiment of a tank according to this invention;

FIG. 1C is another view of the section shown in FIG. 1B;

FIG. 1D is a cut-away sectional view of an end section of a tank according to one embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a sketch of another configuration of a tank according to one embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates truss members and their arrangement in the length direction of the tank shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 illustrates truss members and their arrangement in the width direction of the tank shown in FIG. 2;

FIGS. 5A, 5B, and 5C illustrate one method of constructing a tank according to this invention from four sections, each section being comprised of at least four panels;

FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate one method of stacking the panels of a section shown in FIG. 5A;

FIG. 7 illustrates one method of loading the panels of FIG. 5A, stacked as shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B, onto a barge;

FIG. 8 illustrates one method of unloading the panels of FIG. 5A, stacked as shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B, off of a barge;

FIGS. 9A and 9B illustrate one method of unfolding and joining together the stacked parts of FIGS. 6A and 6B at a tank assembly site;

FIGS. 10A and 10B illustrate the assembly of the sections of FIG. 5B into a completed tank and the skidding of the completed tank into place inside a secondary container.

FIGS. 11–13 depict embodiments of the plate girder ring frame/truss structure internal frame embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 14 depicts one plate girder ring frame of one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 15 depicts an embodiment of the plate girder ring frame embodiment composed of panel elements.

FIG. 16 shows how the panel elements depicted in FIG. 15 may be stacked for shipping.

While the invention will be described in connection with its preferred embodiments, it will be understood that the invention is not limited thereto. On the contrary, the invention is intended to cover all alternatives, modifications, and equivalents which may be included within the spirit and scope of the present disclosure, as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A substantially rectangular-shaped storage tank of a preferred embodiment of the present invention is designed to provide the ability to vary capacity of the tank, in discrete steps, without a substantial redesign of the tank. Solely for construction purposes, this is achieved by considering the tank as comprising a number of similar structural modules. For example, a 100,000 meter3 tank may be considered to comprise four substantially equal structural modules obtained by cutting a large tank by three imaginary vertical planes suitably spaced along the length direction such that each section is conceptually able to hold approximately 25,000 meter3 of liquid. Such a tank is comprised of two substantially identical end sections and two substantially identical mid sections. By removing or adding mid sections during construction of the tank, tanks of same cross-section, i.e., same height and width, but variable length and thus variable capacity, in discrete steps, can be obtained. A tank that has two end sections, but no mid sections, may also be constructed according to this invention. The two end sections are structurally similar, preferably identical, and may comprise one or more vertical transverse trusses and corresponding plate girder ring frames in some embodiments of the invention and parts of vertical longitudinal trusses and portions of the corresponding plate girder ring frames in some embodiments of the invention that when connected to similar parts of the adjoining mid sections (or end section) during the construction process will provide continuous vertical longitudinal trusses and longitudinal plate girder ring frames in some embodiments of the invention and a monolithic tank structure. All of the mid sections, if any, may have similar, preferably basically the same, construction and each is comprised of one or more transverse trusses and equal number of plate girder ring frames in some embodiments of the invention and parts of the longitudinal trusses and/or corresponding portions of plate girder ring frames in some embodiments of the invention in a similar manner as for the end sections. For both the end sections and mid sections, structural grillage (comprising stringers and stiffeners) and plates are attached at those internal frame extremities that will eventually form the outer surface, including the plate cover, of the completed tank, and preferably only at such internal frame extremities.

FIGS. 1A–1D depict the basic structure of a one embodiment of a storage tank according to this invention. Referring to FIG. 1A, substantially rectangular-shaped tank 10 is 100 meters (328 feet) in length 12 by 40 meters (131 feet) in width 14 by 25 meters (82 feet ) in height 16. Basically, tank 10 is comprised of an internal, truss frame structure 18, a grillage of stiffeners 27 and stringers 28 (shown in FIGS. 1C and 1D) attached to truss frame structure 18, and a thin plate cover 17 attached to the grillage of stiffeners 27 and stringers 28. The thin plate cover 17, the grillage of stiffeners 27 and stringers 28, and the internal truss frame structure 18 can be constructed from any suitable material that is ductile and has acceptable fracture characteristics at cryogenic temperatures (e.g., a metallic plate such as 9% nickel steel, aluminum, aluminum alloys, etc.). In a preferred embodiment, thin plate cover 17 is constructed from steel having a thickness of about 10 mm (0.38 inches), more preferably from about 6 mm (0.25 inches) to about 10 mm (0.38 inches). The thin plate cover 17 when assembled (i) provides a physical barrier adapted to contain a fluid, such as LNG, within tank 10 and (ii) bears local loads and pressures caused by contact with the contained fluids, and transmits such local loads and pressures to the structural grillage comprised of stiffeners 27 and stringers 28 (See FIGS. 1C and 1D), which, in turn, transmit these loads to the truss frame structure 18. Truss frame structure 18 ultimately bears the aggregate of local loads, including seismically induced liquid sloshing loads caused by earthquakes, transmitted by thin plate cover 17 and the structural grillage from the periphery of tank 10 and disposes these loads to the foundation of tank 10.

More specifically, storage tank 10 is a freestanding, substantially rectangular-shaped tank that is capable of storing large amounts (e.g. 100,000 meters3 (approximately 600,000 barrels)) of liquefied natural gas (LNG). While different construction techniques may be used, FIGS. 1B–1D illustrate a preferred method of assembling a tank according to one embodiment of this invention, such as tank 10. For fabrication and construction purposes, tank 10 with contiguous interior space may be considered as sliced into a plurality of sections, e.g. ten sections, comprising two substantially identical end pieces 10B (FIG. 1D), and a plurality, e.g., eight, substantially identical mid sections 10A (FIGS. 1B and 1C). These sections 10A and 10B may be transported by marine vessels or barges to the site of construction and assembled into a monolithic tank unit. This method of construction provides a means of achieving a variable size of tank 10 to suit variable storage requirements without the need to redesign tank 10. This is achieved by keeping the design of end sections 10B and mid sections 10A substantially the same, but varying the number of mid sections 10A that are inserted between two end sections 10B. While technically feasible, this embodiment of the invention may present challenges in certain circumstances. For example, for large tanks constructed from thin steel plate, handling of the structural sections eventually comprising the tank during transportation and assembly of the sections into a monolithic tank, would require great care to avoid damaging any of the sections.

In another embodiment of this invention, a modified tank design configuration resulting in more fabrication friendly methods for constructing a tank of this invention is provided. FIG. 2 depicts the configuration of the structure of tank 50. An end panel is removed from tank 50 (i.e., not shown in FIG. 2) to reveal some of the internal structure 52 of tank 50. In somewhat greater detail, 100,000 meter3 capacity rectangular tank 50 has a 90 meter (approximately 295 ft.) length 51, a 40 meter (approximately 131 ft.) width 53 and a 30 meter (approximately 99 ft.) height 55. When fully assembled and installed at the location of service, tank 50 comprises internal structure 52 comprised of a substantially rectangular-shaped internal truss frame structure, a grillage of stiffeners and stringers (not shown in FIG. 2) attached to the truss frame structure, and a thin plate cover 54 sealingly attached to the structural grillage of stringers and stiffeners; and fully-assembled tank 50 provides a contiguous and unencumbered space for liquefied gas storage in the interior. FIGS. 3 and 4 show sectional views of tank 50 (of FIG. 2) cut respectively by lengthwise (longitudinal) and widthwise (transverse) vertical planes. FIG. 3 shows typical truss frame structure members 60 a and 60 b and their arrangement in the length (longitudinal) direction of tank 50. FIG. 4 shows typical truss frame structure members 70 a and 70 b and their arrangement in the width (transverse) direction of tank 50.

For a fully assembled tank, the design illustrated by FIGS. 2–4 separates the required tank functions of fluid containment and the provision of tank strength and stability by providing separate and distinct structural systems for each, i.e., a thin plate cover for fluid containment and a three dimensional truss frame structure and a grillage of stiffeners and stringers for overall strength and stability, albeit an integrated fabrication of the two systems is proposed to achieve economy in installed tank cost. For fabrication purposes, therefore, tank 50 can be considered as divided into four sections, as shown in FIG. 2, comprising two substantially identical end sections 56 and two substantially identical mid sections 57. Each of the end and mid sections of the tank can be further subdivided into panels (see, e.g., panels 83, 84, and 85 of FIG. 5A). Each said panel may comprise the plate cover, stiffeners and/or stringers, and structural members or gridworks of structural members to be used in the construction of the internal truss structure. To facilitate fabrication, internal structure 52 is divided into two parts, a part that can be attached to the panels as they are being fabricated on the panel line of a shipyard and a part that is installed in the interior of tank 50 as the panels are being assembled into a completed tank. Solid lines in FIGS. 3 and 4 show truss members 60 a and 70 a that are attached to the panels as they are fabricated. The truss structures specifically attached to the panels to facilitate panel fabrication may be in any truss form. For example, a pure Warren truss, a pure Pratt truss, a plated Pratt truss, or other truss configuration known in the art. Dotted lines in FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate truss members 60 b and 70 b that are installed as the panels are assembled into a completed tank structure.

In an alternative embodiment a substantially rectangular fluid storage tank having an internal frame structure is provided. The internal frame structure may include a plurality of plate girder ring frames having inner sides disposed to the interior of the fluid storage tank while the inner sides of the plate girder ring frames may be supported by the outer edge or extremities of a plurality of truss structures. The internal frame structure may therefore include a plurality of truss structures with one truss structures corresponding to each plate girder ring frame. The frame structure may be disposed in the plane of and inside the plate girder ring frame, thereby supporting the first plate girder ring frame. In one configuration, the truss structure may include a plurality of both vertical, elongated supports and horizontal, elongated supports, connected to form a gridwork of structural members, and a plurality of additional support members secured within and between the connected vertical and horizontal, elongated supports to thereby form the truss structure.

The plate girder ring frames may be disposed in one or more directions within the fluid storage tank. Three exemplary arrangements include first, a group of plate girder ring frames may be disposed running along the width and height of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the length of the fluid storage tank. Second, a group of plate girder ring frames may be disposed running along the height and length of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the width of the storage tank. Third, a group of plate girder ring frames may be disposed running along the length and width of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the height of said fluid storage tank. The intersection of plate girder ring frames running in different directions may form a plurality of attachment points where the differently directed plate girder ring frames are interconnected, thereby forming one integrated internal frame structure.

One or more of the plate girder ring frame directional types described above may also include inner sides supported by the outer edge or extremities of a truss structure as described above. Alternatively, one or more of the plate girder ring frame types may remain unsupported on their inner edge. The plate girder ring frames may also include flanges located on the inner sides of the plate girder ring frames. The flanges may be oriented such that they form a “T” shape on the inner, interior side of the plate girder ring frames with the depth of the plate girder ring frames. The depth of a plate girder ring frame being defined as the distance between the inner side edge and the outer side edge of the plate girder ring frame in a plane containing both the inner side and the outer side of the plate girder ring frame. The flanges may act to stiffen the plate girder ring frames like half of an “I” beam. In one embodiment, the plate girder ring frames may be sized to have a depth of 1.0 to 4.0 meters. Alternatively, the plate girder ring frames may have a depth of 1.5 to 3.5 meters or 2 to 3 meters. Again the depth is defined as the distance between the inner side edge and outer side edge of the plate girder ring frame in a plane containing both the inner side and the outer side of the plate girder ring frame. In one embodiment, the plate girder ring frames may have a depth that is 0.5 to 15 percent of the fluid storage tank's length, depth or height. Alternatively, the plate girder ring frames may have a depth of 1 to 10 percent or 2 to 8 percent of the fluid storage-tank's length, depth or height.

In one embodiment, one or more of the plate girder ring frames may be solid along their depth for maximum support. In an alternate embodiment one or more of the plate girder ring frames may contain perforations. Perforations can be used to facilitate flow of LNG across sections created by deep plate girders when the liquid level in the tank is low.

Like differently directed plate girder ring frames, differently directed truss structures may be included in the internal frame structure. The truss structures may be disposed in one or more directions within the fluid storage tank. Three exemplary arrangements include first, a group of truss structures may be disposed running along the width and height of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the length of the fluid storage tank. Second, a group of truss structures may be disposed running along the height and length of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the width of said the storage tank. Third, a group of truss structures may be disposed running along the length and width of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the height of said fluid storage tank. The intersection of truss structures running in different directions may form a connection between the differently directed truss structures such that both a first truss structure and a second perpendicular truss structure intersecting at an attachment point incorporate a common structural member into their respective structural configurations, thereby forming one integrated internal frame structure. In one embodiment the intersection and connection of the differently directed truss structures includes at least a portion of a vertical elongated supports serving as a vertical elongated support in both of the differently directed truss structures. In essence the first directed truss structure and the second directed truss structure share a vertical truss member.

The fluid storage tank also includes a plate cover surrounding the internal frame structure. In one embodiment, the plate cover has an inner side disposed to the outer sides of the included plate girder ring frames. In one embodiment the fluid storage tank includes a plurality of stiffeners and stringers interconnected and arranged in a substantially orthogonal pattern. The plurality of stiffeners and stringers may have an inner and outer side where the outer side of the stiffeners and stringers is attached to the inner side of the plate cover and the stiffeners and stringers are intercostally connected to the plate girder ring frames. For example, the stiffeners and or stringers may be attached to or integrally formed with the plate girder ring frames such that the outer sides/extremities of both the plate girder ring frames and the stiffeners and/or stringers exist in the same plane. The plane formed by the outer extremities/sides of both the plate girder ring frames and the stiffeners and/or stringers thereby provides a surface for attachment of the inner side of the plate cover. In this way both the outer edges of the plate girder ring frames and one side of the stiffeners and/or stringers may be attach to the plate cover directly. In one embodiment the stringers have a depth of 0.20 to 1.75 meters, alternatively from 0.25 to 1.5 meters, or alternatively from 0.75 to 1.25 meters. In one embodiment the stiffeners have a depth of 0.1 to 1.00 meters, alternatively from 0.2 to 0.8 meters, or alternatively from 0.3 to 0.7 meters. In one embodiment, the plate cover is constructed to have a thickness of less than 13 mm (0.52 in). In an alternative embodiment the plate cover is about 10 mm (0.38 inches), alternatively from about 6 mm (0.25 inches) to about 10 mm (0.38 inches) or between 6 (0.25 inches) to 13 millimeters (0.52 in) thick. In one embodiment, the plate cover is comprised of a plurality of joined plates.

Using the above-described ring frame and truss structure, a fluid storage tank having an internal fluid storage capacity of greater than 100,000 cubic meters may be constructed. Alternatively, the fluid storage tank may have a capacity greater than 50,000 cubic meters. Alternatively, the fluid storage tank may have a capacity greater than 150,000 cubic meters. If the fluid storage tank is used for cryogenic service then the various components of the fluid storage tank internal frame and cover may be made of a cryogenic material which is suitably ductile and has acceptable fracture characteristics at cryogenic temperatures, as may be determined by one skilled in the art. In one embodiment, the cryogenic material is selected from stainless steels, high nickel alloy steel, aluminum, and aluminum alloys. In one embodiment, any of the plate girder ring frames, the truss structures or the plate cover is made of a cryogenic material.

The above-described plate girder ring frame and truss structure is expected to be easier to construct and cost less than competing fluid storage tanks, especially for cryogenic fluid storage tanks. For example, the plate girder ring frames can be formed from plate steel or aluminum materials which should reduce their cost and not require complex additional forming of the steel structures.

FIG. 11 depicts an exemplary internal frame structure 250 according to the plate girder ring frame/truss structure embodiment of the invention. First plate girder ring frames 200 are shown running along the width 210 and height 230 of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the length 220 of the fluid storage tank. The first plate girder ring frames 200 are depicted with “T” shaped inner side edges 235. The first plate girder ring frames 200 are depicted with first horizontal perforations 201 on the horizontal portions of the first plate girder ring frames 200 and first vertical perforations 202 on the vertical portions of the first plate girder ring frames 200. The first plate girder ring frames 200 are supported by first truss structures 203 which correspond to each one of the first plate girder ring frames 200 and are disposed in the plane of and inside each first plate girder ring frame 200. The internal frame structure 250 also includes second plate girder ring frames 204 running along the height 230 and length 220 of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the width 210 of the fluid storage tank. The second plate girder ring frames 204 are depicted with “T” shaped inner side edges 236. The second plate girder ring frames 204 are depicted with second horizontal perforations 205 on the horizontal portions of the second plate girder ring frames 204 and second vertical perforations 206 on the vertical portions of the second plate girder ring frames 204. The second plate girder ring frames 204 are supported by second truss structures 207 which correspond to each one of the second plate girder ring frames 204 and are disposed in the plane of and inside each second plate girder ring frame 204. The internal frame structure 250 also includes third plate girder ring frames 208 running along the width 210 and length 220 of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the height 230 of the fluid storage tank. The third plate girder ring frames 208 are depicted with “T” shaped inner side edges 237. The third plate girder ring frames 208 are depicted with third horizontal perforations 209 on the horizontal portions of the third plate girder ring frames 208 running in a lengthwise direction. The horizontal portions of the third plate girder ring frames 208 running in a widthwise direction do not contain any perforations and are solid. The third plate girder ring frames 208 are not supported by a separate, co-planar truss structure as with the first and second plate girder ring frames.

Plate girder attachment points 211 are formed at the intersection of the variously directed plate girder ring frames. By attaching, for example by welding, the variously directed plate girder ring frames a more rigid internal frame structure 250 is obtained. Likewise, the intersections of the first truss structure 203 and the second truss structure 207 forms truss attachment points 212. By attaching, for example by sharing structural members, the perpendicularly directed truss structures a more rigid internal frame structure 250 is obtained.

FIG. 12 depicts the internal frame structure 250 of FIG. 11 with additional stiffeners and stringers partially covering the internal frame structure 250. First stringers 221 are shown running along the width 210 and height 230 of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the length 220 of the fluid storage tank. Second stringers 222 are shown running along the width 210 and length 220 of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the height 230 of the fluid storage tank. Third stringers 224 are shown running along length 220 and height 230 and spaced along the width 210 of the fluid storage tank. FIG. 12 also depicts stiffeners 223 running orthogonally to either the first, second or third stringers 221, 222, 224. The stiffeners 223 may be connected to either or both of the first, second, or third stringers 221, 222, 224. As shown in FIG. 12 the stiffeners 223 and stringers 221, 222, 224 may be attached to or integrally formed with the plate girder ring frames such that the outer sides/extremities of both the plate girder ring frames and the stiffeners and stringers exist in the same plane. The plane formed by the outer extremities/sides of both the plate girder ring frames and the stiffeners and stringers thereby provides a surface for attachment of the inner side of the plate cover. In this way both the outer edges of the plate girder ring frames and one side of the stiffeners and/or stringers may be attach to the plate cover directly. Alternatively, the internal side of the stiffeners and stringers may be attached to the outer sides of the variously directed plate girder ring frames. The exterior side of the stiffeners and stringers may be attached to the inner side of the plate cover 231 as depicted in FIG. 13.

FIG. 14 depicts one plate girder ring frame which is representative of the previously described first plate girder ring frame 200 running along the width 210 and height 230 of the fluid storage tank and spaced along the length 220 of the fluid storage tank. The plate girder 200 has an inner side 241 disposed to the interior of the fluid storage tank, including in some embodiments to the exterior of the internal frame structure and an outer side 242 disposed to the exterior portions of the fluid storage tank internal frame structure. The depth 243 of the plate girder ring frame 200 is the distance between the inner side edge and the outer side edge of the plate girder ring frame 200. The plate girder ring frame of FIG. 14 is solid and does not contain perforations. Lines located on the first plate girder ring frame 200 depict where the second plate girder ring frame 204 and third plate girder ring frame 208 would intersect the first plate girder ring frame 200. The intersection of the second and third stringers 222, 224 are also depicted as “T” lines on the first plate girder ring frame 200.

The left half of plate girder ring frame 200 is depicted with an internal truss structure representative of the first truss structure 203, while the right half of plate girder ring frame 200 is depicted without any internal truss structure. The truss structure 203 may be comprised of a plurality of both vertical, elongated supports 244 and horizontal, elongated supports 245, connected to form a gridwork of structural members, and a plurality of additional support members 246 secured within and between the connected vertical and horizontal, elongated supports 244, 245.

FIG. 15 depicts a portion of a fluid storage tank 260 made with plate girder ring frames. The portion of the fluid storage tank 260 depicted is comprised of top panel element 261, end panel element 262, bottom panel element 263, and two side panel elements 264. The various panel elements include plate covers 231, stiffeners (not shown), respective stringers (not shown), and respective plate girder ring frames 200, 204 and 208 (numbered as a, b, and c to distinguish portions on ring frames located on different panel elements). Panel elements including the above-mentioned structural elements may be constructed in one location, moved to a second location, and assembled at the second location. During assembly the internal truss structures may be added to form the internal frame structure of the fluid storage tank. FIG. 16 displays how the various panel elements can be stacked for shipment from the first location to the second location.

Referring to FIGS. 5A and 5B, for fabrication purposes, excluding some interior truss members that are to be installed later (shown in FIG. 5C), a tank according to some embodiments of this invention is initially constructed as four separate sections 81 a, 82 a, 82 b, and 81 b (section 81 b being shown in an exploded view in FIG. 5B and section 82 b being shown in an exploded view in FIG. 5A), with each of two mid sections 82 a and 82 b comprising four panels each, i.e., a top panel 83, a bottom panel 84 and two side panels 85, and each of two end sections 81 a and 81 b as comprising five panels each, a top panel, a bottom panel, two side panels, and another panel referred to as a third side panel or an end panel 87. In this illustration, the largest panel, e.g., panel 83 for a mid section 82 a or 82 b comprises one or more plates 86 joined together, stiffeners and/or stringers (not shown) and parts of internal truss frame structure members 88. The panels (eighteen in number in the present illustration) are fabricated first and assembled into a tank unit as discussed hereunder.

In one embodiment, the panel fabrication starts with delivery of plates to a shipyard where the plates are marked, cut and fabricated into plate cover, stiffener, stringer and truss frame structure member elements. The panel elements are joined together by any applicable joining technique known to those skilled in the art, e.g., by welding, and stiffeners, stringers, and truss frame structure elements are attached to the panel at the sub-assembly and assembly lines normally used on modern shipyards. Upon completion of the fabrication operation, panels for each tank section are stacked separately as indicated in FIGS. 6A and 6B. For example, using the same numbering as for mid section 82 b of FIGS. 5A and 5B, top panel 83, side panels 85, and bottom panel 84 are stacked as shown. Referring now to FIG. 7, sets of the four stacked panels comprising the four sections 81 a, 82 a, 82 b, and 81 b of the illustrated tank in FIG. 5B, along with additional structural members of the truss frame structure (not shown in FIG. 7) that are going to be installed in the field as the panels are assembled to construct the tank structure, are loaded on a sea-going barge 100 and transported to the site for tank construction. End panels are not shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, but are also loaded on sea-going barge 100. Referring now to FIG. 8, at the site 102 for tank construction, the sets of the four stacked panels comprising the four sections 81 a, 82 a, 82 b, and 81 b and the additional truss structural members (not shown in FIG. 8) are off-loaded and moved to the tank assembly site 104 near skidder tracks 110, rail tracks 112, and secondary container 117. At the tank assembly site 104, the panels for each tank section are unfolded and joined together to create each section of the tank. For example, the unfolding and joining of panels 83, 84, 85 to make section 82 b (as shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B) is illustrated in FIGS. 9A and 9B. With panel 83 being lifted, sides 85 are folded outwardly until substantially vertical, and then panel 83 is set down and joined to the sides 85. At this stage, partial additional truss frame structure members are installed in the tank interior in both the tank length and width directions (an example of this framing is shown by dotted lines in FIGS. 3 and 4). In one embodiment, the four sections 81 a, 82 a, 82 b, and 81 b are then assembled at tank assembly site 104 and joined together, e.g., by welding, to form a partially completed tank 115 as shown in FIG. 10A and a completed tank 116 as shown in FIG. 10B. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10B, completed tank 116 is tested for liquid and gas tightness and skidded into place inside secondary container 117.

Referring again to FIGS. 1B and 1C, due to the openness of internal, truss frame structure 18, the interior of a tank according to one embodiment of this invention, such as tank 10 of FIG. 1, is effectively contiguous throughout so that LNG or other fluid stored therein is free to flow from end to end without any effective encumbrances in between. This inherently provides a tank having more efficient storage space than is present in the same-sized tank having bulkheads. Another advantage of a tank according to this invention is that only a single set of tank penetrations and pumps are required to fill and empty the tank. More importantly, due to the relatively long, open spans of tank 10 of the present invention, any sloshing of the stored liquid caused by seismic activity induces relatively small dynamic loading on tank 10. This loading is significantly smaller than it would otherwise be if the tank had multiple cells created by the bulkheads of the prior art.

The plate girder ring frame and truss structure liquid storage tank embodiment of the invention may also be assembled by any of the methods described above for the purely truss frame liquid storage tank embodiment. In such an assembly, portions of a plate girder ring frame could be attached to a respective side or end plate cover section to form panel elements. The portions of a plate girder ring frame could then be connected as sections of the plate cover sections or panel elements are connected, by, for example, welding the respective plate girder ring frame sections to form an overall plate girder ring frame. Different types of plate girder ring frame/plate cover structural modules formed as described for the purely truss frame liquid storage tank embodiment above could be formed to be used as end sections and mid sections as described for the purely truss frame liquid storage tank embodiment. For example, a rectangular fluid storage tank may be considered to comprise four substantially equal structural modules obtained by cutting a large tank by three imaginary vertical planes suitably spaced along the length direction such that each section is conceptually able to hold approximately a fourth of the liquid storage volume. Such a tank is comprised of two substantially identical end sections and two substantially identical mid sections. By removing or adding mid sections during construction of the tank, tanks of same cross-section, i.e., same height and width, but variable length and thus variable capacity, in discrete steps, can be obtained.

Although this invention is well suited for storing LNG, it is not limited thereto; rather, this invention is suitable for storing any cryogenic temperature liquid or other liquid. Additionally, while the present invention has been described in terms of one or more preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that other modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the invention, which is set forth in the claims below. All tank dimensions given in the examples are provided for illustration purposes only. Various combinations of width, height and length can be devised to build tanks in accordance with the teachings of this invention.

Glossary of Terms

cryogenic temperature: any temperature of about −40° C. (−40° F.) and lower;

GBS: Gravity Base Structure;

Gravity Base Structure: a substantially rectangular-shaped, barge-like structure;

grillage: network or frame;

LNG: liquefied natural gas at cryogenic temperatures of about −162° C. (−260° F.) and at substantially atmospheric pressure; and

plate or plate cover: (i) one substantially smooth and substantially flat body of substantially uniform thickness or (ii) two or more substantially smooth and substantially flat bodies joined together by any suitable joining method, such as by welding, each said substantially smooth and substantially flat body being of substantially uniform thickness.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1300777Mar 19, 1918Apr 15, 1919British & Colonial Aeroplane Company LtdAircraft-fuselage.
US1405829Oct 3, 1914Feb 7, 1922George H ForsythMetal sash construction
US1477686Oct 18, 1918Dec 18, 1923Walter P BraenderContainer
US1631051Aug 14, 1925May 31, 1927Nichols Watt MOil tank
US1809013Apr 12, 1929Jun 9, 1931Chicago Bridge & Iron CoContainer
US1864759Nov 14, 1928Jun 28, 1932Pritchard Clifford MStorage tank or container
US1933860Jan 9, 1930Nov 7, 1933Kjekstad JohannesTruss weld system
US2082836Sep 21, 1933Jun 8, 1937Johannes KjekstadWelded construction
US2083051Sep 26, 1936Jun 8, 1937Steven J ChapasAirship
US2115165 *Jun 13, 1934Apr 26, 1938Curtiss Wright CorpTank construction
US2119518May 6, 1937Jun 7, 1938Chicago Bridge & Iron CoContainer
US2156400Nov 13, 1937May 2, 1939Firm Aug KlonneSpherical container for storing fluids, such as gas and liquids
US2296414May 26, 1938Sep 22, 1942Lewis AlbrechtStorage tank construction
US2331483May 31, 1940Oct 12, 1943Ronald Miller AlexanderStorage tank
US2333792Aug 6, 1941Nov 9, 1943Pittsburgh Des Moines CompanyPressure container
US2337049Jan 6, 1942Dec 21, 1943Pittsburgh Des Moines CompanyWelded steel structure
US2341547Jan 22, 1941Feb 15, 1944Chicago Bridge & Iron CoPressure container
US2352296Nov 24, 1941Jun 27, 1944American Diagrid CorpBeam grid structure for ships, airplanes, and the like
US2380089Dec 13, 1943Jul 10, 1945Graver Tank & Mfg Co IncPressure tank
US2382357Mar 6, 1943Aug 14, 1945Budd Edward G Mfg CoMetallic skin-covered structure
US2386019Jan 28, 1943Oct 2, 1945Budd Edward G Mfg CoTruss structure and parts thereof
US2412578Aug 7, 1943Dec 17, 1946Harris Frederick RDry dock pontoon construction
US2533041Sep 27, 1946Dec 5, 1950Hammond Iron WorksInternal bracing for liquid storage tanks
US2593153Jun 7, 1946Apr 15, 1952Joor Jr William EugeneStorage tank
US2673001Jun 30, 1952Mar 23, 1954Graver Tank & Mfg Co IncTank structure
US2911125Jul 9, 1958Nov 3, 1959Constock Internat Methane LtdStorage tank for cold liquids
US2975927Dec 11, 1958Mar 21, 1961Chicago Bridge & Iron CoStorage tank
US2982441Jan 16, 1957May 2, 1961Conch Int Methane LtdLiquid-storage tank
US3062402Apr 22, 1959Nov 6, 1962Conch Int Methane LtdLiquid storage tank
US3096901May 12, 1960Jul 9, 1963Chicago Bridge & Iron CoSquaroid type liquid storage tank
US3172560Oct 6, 1961Mar 9, 1965Conch Int Methane LtdLarge capacity tank for storing and transporting low temperature liquids
US3441164Aug 24, 1966Apr 29, 1969Union Carbide CorpCryogenic storage tanks
US3447503Jul 13, 1967Jun 3, 1969Litton Great Lakes CorpMethod and apparatus for modular construction of a ship
US3472414Dec 12, 1966Oct 14, 1969Ciotat LaContainers and the like
US3583592Nov 5, 1968Jun 8, 1971Gen Am TransportCryogenic storage tank
US3602391Apr 29, 1969Aug 31, 1971Stewart Warner CorpCryogenic tank
US3731450Aug 14, 1969May 8, 1973Du Chateau SMetal structure and sections
US3780687Dec 17, 1971Dec 25, 1973Mcdonald JShip hull construction
US3799383Feb 12, 1971Mar 26, 1974Westerwaelder Eisen GerhardTranscontainer for flowable material
US3931908Aug 2, 1973Jan 13, 1976Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical CorporationInsulated tank
US3978808 *Sep 11, 1973Sep 7, 1976John J. Mcmullen Associates, Inc.Double wall cargo tank for transporting cryogenics
US3979005Mar 17, 1975Sep 7, 1976The Boeing CompanyCryogenic tank and aircraft structural interface
US4207827Nov 22, 1977Jun 17, 1980Michel GondouinSystem, tooling and method of construction of cryogenic tanks for LNG tankers and for LNG storage
US4374478Jan 3, 1980Feb 22, 1983Ocean Phoenix Holdings NvStorage tanks for liquids
US5143283Apr 12, 1991Sep 1, 1992The Mead CorporationFor use in shipping
US5193714 *Jun 25, 1992Mar 16, 1993The Neel CompanyModular vault for storage tanks
US5263604Jul 1, 1992Nov 23, 1993Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm AGSuspension arrangement for a tank
US5375547Dec 27, 1993Dec 27, 1994Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.Self-standing liquefied gas storage tank and liquefied gas carrier ship therefor
US5505035Jun 24, 1992Apr 9, 1996Lalvani; HareshBuilding systems with non-regular polyhedral nodes
US5531178Oct 25, 1994Jul 2, 1996Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.Support structure for self-standing storage tank in liquified gas carrier ship
US5586391 *Jun 6, 1995Dec 24, 1996The Boeing CompanyMethod of making airplane fuselage
US5651474Jan 24, 1996Jul 29, 1997The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Air ForceCryogenic structures
US6073420Feb 13, 1996Jun 13, 2000Fundia Profiler A/SPlate web and profile element
US6076324Nov 7, 1997Jun 20, 2000Nu-Cast Inc.Truss structure design
US6729492Jun 7, 2001May 4, 2004Exxonmobil Upstream Research CompanyLiquefied natural gas storage tank
US6732881Feb 24, 1999May 11, 2004Mobil Oil CorporationLiquefied gas storage tank
DE4121762C1Jul 1, 1991Sep 10, 1992Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm Gmbh, 8012 Ottobrunn, DeTitle not available
DE19524680A1Jul 6, 1995Jan 9, 1997Linde AgSpeicherbehälter für kryogene Medien
WO2000021847A1Sep 28, 1999Apr 20, 2000Mobil Oil CorpLiquefied gas storage tank
WO2002081297A2Apr 2, 2002Oct 17, 2002Richard A GoldbachLng storage vessel and method for constructing same
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1PCT International Search Report and Written Opinion, mailed Feb. 24, 2006, for PCT/US04/43285 (2000.077B), 7 pages.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7469650Feb 14, 2006Dec 30, 2008National Steel And Shipping CompanyMethod and apparatus for off-hull manufacture and installation of a semi-membrane LNG tank
US7748336Dec 16, 2008Jul 6, 2010General Dynamics National Steel and Shipping CompanyMethod and apparatus for off-hull manufacture and installation of a semi-membrane LNG tank
US7896188 *Mar 16, 2007Mar 1, 2011National Steel And Shipbuilding CompanyUniversal support arrangement for semi-membrane tank walls
US8251171 *Jun 14, 2010Aug 28, 2012Ford Global Technologies, LlcLattice structure for a distensible fuel tank
US8430263Feb 23, 2011Apr 30, 2013General Dynamics NasscoUniversal support arrangement for semi-membrane tank walls
US8657051 *Aug 28, 2012Feb 25, 2014Ford Global Technologies, LlcLattice structure for a distensible fuel tank
US8689494 *Mar 29, 2012Apr 8, 2014Tfl Distribution, LlcClimatic protection of fracking hydro tanks
US20130008911 *Aug 28, 2012Jan 10, 2013Ford Global Technologies, LlcLattice structure for a distensible fuel tank
US20130206196 *Mar 29, 2012Aug 15, 2013Andrew B. LeavittClimatic protection of fracking hydro tanks
US20130233861 *Apr 23, 2013Sep 12, 2013Ford Global Technologies, LlcLattice structure for a distensible fuel tank
US20130240539 *May 3, 2013Sep 19, 2013Ford Global Technologies, LlcCompliance structure for a distensible fuel tank
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 25, 2014FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Feb 19, 2010FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Jun 9, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: EXXONMOBIL UPSTREAM RESEARCH COMPANY, TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:GULATI, KAILASH C.;MOON, RAYMOND;REEL/FRAME:014711/0905;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040419 TO 20040430